Monday, January 21, 2013

{5 rules for scoring big at Goodwill}

One of my newest loves is thrift shopping, and I've really been enjoying the thrill of hunting for treasure at Goodwill. I used to think that it was pointless to look at Goodwill for clothing, and that the home section was just about as useless. But recently I started shopping there with a new perspective and a new list of rules, and I've been so excited with what I've found.

I thought it would be fun to put together my 5 rules for scoring big at Goodwill to help you get the best out of your thrifting adventures as well!

1. Have an open mind + a mental list

Of course I always go thrift shopping with an open mind, but there is usually at least one item of clothing or accessory for our home that I've been looking for. So I always look with those things in mind. If you don't have a lot of time to shop, this helps you to speed through the racks a bit quicker.

For example, the last time I went to Goodwill I remembered that I really wanted to find a tan corduroy skirt, so when I got to the skirt aisle I headed straight for the tans/browns {#2 talks about taking advantage of Goodwill's color coding} and immediately my eyes zeroed in on a tan corduroy number. It was a size 10 from the Gap. Sometimes a 10 is too tight on me but I tried it on anyway and it was a perfect fit!

{I also found this great Kohl's top}

One thing I've learned from trying on thrifted clothes is that you really can't discount something because it isn't the size your normally wear. Most things have been washed/dried so they might have shrunk. Also...a piece might be juniors which means you'll need a larger size, and different brands all run differently. If it looks like it might even possibly fit, try it on!

2. Take advantage of color coding

I really love how Goodwill has their clothing color coded. This helps tremendously, especially when you have a certain item/color in mind. Lately I've been searching for a mustard colored top so every time I go in, I make sure to check that section. I almost always skip over the bright reds because I just don't look good in that color. You can save SO much time by skipping the color sections you have no interest in and focusing on your favorites.

3. Zone in on quality + pattern

One of my best tips for zooming through the clothing racks at Goodwill is skipping over things that are too worn. At our Goodwill, probably 75% of the clothes are faded, pilly, and overall just old and too worn to be worth taking a second look. So when I'm looking through the clothing racks, I quickly scan over each piece, passing over anything that looks worn, faded, stretched out, or just isn't a color/pattern that appeals to me.

When I see a piece that looks like a high quality fabric, a trendy/modern pattern, an appealing color, or if I notice a name brand tag that appeals to me, those are the pieces I pull off of the rack to give them a once over. One great example of this rule is this cardigan I snagged a few months ago...

One of my best Goodwill finds to date.

It fits in with the tribal print pattern that is so trendy right now, but instead of spending $50+ on a cardigan, I only handed over $4 and some change.

Two things that made this cardigan stand out to me on the rack were: 1. the high quality of the knit {no pills/snags}, and 2. the tribal print. It did have dated buttons, but I knew that was something I could easily switch out, which I did right away for just a few dollars...

4. Look for multiples

Most Goodwill stores carry clearances items from stores like Target, and they usually have multiples of the same items. One quick way to find these brand new with tags pieces in the clothing section is to look for more than one of the same piece together on the rack. Since almost all Goodwill clothing pieces are one of a kind, you know when you see multiples of the same top or pants that they are probably brand new.

The same goes for the housewares section. The last time I visited our Goodwill I noticed a shelf full of the same trendy looking vase. Sure enough...they were brand new pieces from Target. So keep your eyes open for multiples!

5. Search high and low

In the housewares section, things can get a bit messy. I know in our Goodwill, there is no rhyme or reason for how things are displayed in some of the aisles. The Target plates that I recently found above were shoved on the top and bottom shelves and buried under a bunch of other random things. I gasped out loud when I found them...I had been coveting this stuff at Target but hadn't purchased anything so these were a really fun find. So when it comes to the housewares, It can really pay off to look through everything. 

So if you haven't shopped at Goodwill before, I hope these rules and my experiences have motivated you to give it a shot.

Or, are you a veteran thrift shopper? What is your best thrifting tip? Please share in the comments!

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Carly said...

I definitely enjoy thrifting and have gotten some great things at Goodwill. I have been to several in our area (5 or so) and none of them organize by color - I wish they did - that would be awesome!

Brenda said...

Great tips! ;) I haven't been in a while, always fun though, especially on Mondays when they change which color is 99 cents & there are plenty of great pieces for a buck!! Love that you mentioned a bargain at Kohls too {a girl after my own heart!} Fun & informative read, thanks for sharing!


Kate Eschbach said...

A date night at Goodwill is one of my FAVORITE things! Just this weekend - I found a Michael Kors top for $4.99

Mandy said...

i love goodwill! but i wish our goodwill would sort clothes by fair! totally agree with checking the bottom shelves, you never know what you might find!

melanie @nowaqueen said...

great tips! I get so overwhelmed 99% of the time when I go to Goodwill....almost always only walk out with mason jars!

Kimberly said...

These are all great tips. The Target "new stock" is also coded with a grey paper tag here at the Indianapolis Goodwills so it is another good thing to keep your eyes open for if you are hoping to snag Target items.

I did a post of some of my top tips a couple of years back here:

and my readers chimed in with some of their tips here:

~julee~ said...

Great tips! My stores don't organize by color (or size either), so it makes going through the racks tedious. It's still worth it though, b/c I always find amazing things.

Lacey_Renea said...

Love this post, you have some great tips!

Our local goodwill store has no structure at all. It's still new though, so maybe they will get their act together. I haven't purchased any clothes from them yet bc it's such a hassle to go through everything, but I've purchased some books and toys.

Danielle Combs said...

Actually, the "housewares" are grouped by a system at the Richmond Goodwill...the problem is when customers come and look through everything and move stuff around. I had a client that pulled hours at Goodwill, so I've seen how this is done. The thing I can't stand about the Richmond store is the way they do the clothes now, all sizes are mixed in together. And there's no longer a shoe section, really. Beyond frustrating, I rarely go to the Richmond store any longer. And speaking of the Target buyouts, a few years ago I scored big on the Orla Kiely tablecloth, napkins and placemats...under 10.00 for all of it. My best thrift find happened at Piqua's Salvation Army - an authentic Hermes scarf for .50!!!

susiek said...

I spend way too much time at GW!! Love it. My tip: When you see something you like, throw it in your cart. If you pass it by and decide later that you want it, either someone else has nabbed it or you can't find it again. So just throw it in your cart and before you check out, find a quiet spot and go through everything in your cart for the final decision. I also try to find things that are tagged with the "color of the week". They are 50% off!

TheTinyHeart said...

These are great tips! I find my Goodwill is really hit or miss, depending on the day.

The Tiny Heart
January Group Giveaway!

chollering said...

The best is Goodwill's 1st Saturday 50% sale. I recently got three brand new dresses from Target for $1.50 each! My advice, go straight to the new carts that have been brought out from the back. They usually haven't been sorted yet and has the best stuff on them!

EmilyC said...

My dad always scores great items every time he goes to any thrift shop, but he is an extremely patient man! So my advice is to take my dad with you haha :)

Butterscotch said...

I have been to several Goodwill's in Florida and found none that has color coding. You are a lucky duck! I imagine that could save a lot of time!

Brenda Phillips said...

Not all Goodwill stores are created equal. They are operated out of different districts and do not all have the same management and standards. For instance, Southern Indiana has "Bridgeport Goodwill" outlets, while central Indiana is managed by "Central Indiana Goodwill". The difference is like night and day. I always shop in the Central Indiana stores and even have favorite locations where the staff seems to do a better job with organizing and keeping shelf items rotated and fresh.

Denise said...

Great tips, love your blog.
I am Denise from A Tad Monroe.
I want to talk to you about an opportunity, can you message me your email.


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